Thursday, October 23
Wheat/Tares and Church Membership (2)
It was very surprising to me that so many assumptions were made when I withdrew my membership from the ‘church’ because of doctrinal differences. Assumptions are also made when anyone even dares to begin to ask questions about the modern day practice of church membership, where it started, is it biblical or is it perhaps tradition. I was surprised because I didn’t realize all those many years that ‘ church membership’ was exalted to that position in the minds of those I fellowshipped so closely with. Remember from posts past, I am the naïve one when it comes to Christendom so my naive expectations were that there would be a time of communication with the elders of the importance of my beliefs, my conscience, and that there would be understanding, care, acceptance and kindness. Those expectations were certainly dashed, but I do count that as working for my good. Now don’t laugh but I actually thought that the elders would tell me that I would be welcome to continue to worship even in the differences and without membership. I know, I know, rather naïve of me right?
One assumption that is made is that the believer doesn’t have a desire to assemble with other believers and that is certainly erroneous. There are also labels attached to anyone who even dares to ask that question. Labels such as rebellious, non-submissive, individualistic, foolish and on and on the labels go. I think the subject that needs to be talked about, looked at AND discussed among the people of God is “the practice of church ‘membership’ and the requirement thereof”. I am not talking about forsaking gathering together with the saints when you can, how you can and as often as you can. So this isn’t about losing the desire to assemble in any way. Every believer, every sheep longs to flock together to worship the Lord our God, it is natural to our regenerated new life. But the looming question is; does that desire equate itself to ‘church membership’?
There is only one ‘body of Christ’ and therefore there is only one membership in that body. The New Testament repeatedly points us to that wonderful Truth. If you do a word search in your bible software and type in one body you will see what I am talking about.
Romans 12:4-5 “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another”
1 Corinthians 10:17 “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; we all partake of the one bread.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
The scripture above means different things to believers and held a great difference for me and I shared that as I came out of the church. You see, I believe that the baptism spoken of above is the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon regeneration when we are placed in the body of Christ, not water baptism. John the Baptist says in Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire”.
All believers, rather water baptized or not have been baptized into the one body by the one Spirit. It is the circumcision/baptism made without hands. Man and the ‘institutional church’ have nothing to do with it.
1 Corinthians 12:20 “But now there are many members, but one body”
1 Corinthians 12:25 “that there should be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another.”
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful”
Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling”
Sobering words for me to consider as God does not divide His body and He has set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 1 Corinthians 12:18
To be continued……